from FUTHI MBHELE in Durban
KwaZulu Natal Bureau
DURBAN, (CAJ News) – THOUSANDS of locals and international visitors are to throng the eMfihlweni Royal Residence, KwaTembe this weekend for the Umthayi Marula Festival.
The traditional celebration of the harvesting of the marula fruit also offers tourists an opportunity to learn about the cultures in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province, which is predominantly Zulu.
This event set for the small town of Manguzi in the Kwa-Ngwanase district also promotes tourism and build the economies of South Africa and neibhbouring countries, eSwatini and Mozambique.
Held for more than 20 years, it attracts thousands of people and this week’s edition will be no different.
The colourful Umthayi Marula Festival is also a boost for the local economy. Many people who attend the festival book for days.
Some of the popular accommodation venues are Jozini Tiger Lodge, Tembe Elephant Park and Thonga Beach Lodge.
Angel Sibisi, provincial Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs spokesperson, said KZN had again rolled out the red carpet in anticipation of visitors from the neighbouring countries and others from far afield as the Seychelles.
The local chiefs (izinduna), politicians, business people and other delegates are expected to attend.
The provincial government spearheads the festival.
“It is an annual ritual of the Tembe clan where older women deliver a brew derived from the first fruits of the marula harvest to their chief, Inkosi Mabhuda Tembe,” Sibisi explained.
The marula season begins in mid-February and continues until May, bringing with it a celebration of the harvest of the fruit.
The harvesting of the marula fruit has deep meaning for the community, who proudly display their heritage and culture during the celebrations.
Among the Zulu people, the marula tree symbolizes women’s fertility and humanity. Newborn girls are welcomed into the world with traditional marula ceremonies.
– CAJ News